Hands-on at E3 / Bayonetta

It still surprises me, the way Sega has, right under my nose, become a rather heavy hitting publisher in this business of making and selling videogames. It was almost exactly ten years ago that we saw their last console sold on store shelves (9/9/99… the useless things we remember). In any case, so it is, and as a publisher, they are here at E3 with a few games to show off. And being that I am here as well, and that I’m here to write about things, I decided to tell you a little bit about my brief hour at their towering booth, starting with Bayonetta.

For those that don’t know, this is the latest title from the Devil May Cry creator, Hideki Kamiya, and is being developed by Platinum Games. It seems Kamiya is quite pleased with the formula he helped establish, because this game just feels like a cousin, sibling, adopted relative of some sort that isn’t an offspring, or some form of a relation more significant than a crossing on the sidewalk. If you’ve played a Devil May Cry game, you can, as I did, comfortably skip the tutorial and start mashing your way to an understanding of the game. For those not too familiar with these games, it’s a massively stylish type of fast-paced third person action game involving not only killing your enemies, but executing ornately violent combos of varying degrees of pain and damage-dealing. That the two play similar should come as no shock to anyone who has seen any iota of gameplay footage. The real question on my mind when I grabbed the controller was whether or not this glimpse will tell me that we’re in for a nice spicy rejuvenation to a genre that is rife with sequels that are beginning to feel stale. The answer to my question after facing a barrage of demons and one oafish giant with a sickle the size of him… possibly.

Where Devil May Cry‘s Dante used a sword and guns, Bayonetta uses a sword, guns, punches, kicks (her high heels are gun barrels), and… hair. I’m not so sure this is a standup idea of innovation, but it is interesting and entertaining at the very least. Since she has more moves at her disposal, that means that more combos are possible to do. To me, this would normally be a red flag. In these games, I typically resign myself to a choice two or three combos that tend to be effective in dealing with most situations. However, two things eased my worries. First: these combos come out fast and seem to be equally effective. While this sounds like it would bland things out, it motivated me to actually take more chances and get creative with what I was doing. Second: This game is Fast Paced. Before you know it, you’ve taken out a good five enemies and a fresh set of five more are on you. Rather than be overwhelming, it really only left me feeling like I had more opportunity to try out more combinations to make Bayonetta look as cool as possible. One red flag that did come up, though, is that this could quickly turn the game into a mash fest of epic proportions. I can only imagine the difficulty ramps up and calls for more precision, and hopefully higher difficulty doesn’t kill the free-flowing fun I felt in this initial level.

On top of combos are little finisher moves. The word “Torture” comes up on screen, and a chance to press Y and B (360 controller) simultaneously arises, and some elaborate torture device like a guillotine or iron maiden forms from the ether to deliver a vicious kill. At the end of the boss battle, the text read “Climax” and pushing the same two buttons turned Bayonetta’s hair into a dragon that gorily devoured the giant I just took on.

So yeah, it was a fun time. Hopefully the full game can maintain a steady pace of this much fun.

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